On Nov. 4, voters have a momentous opportunity to bring Clackamas Community College into the 21st century. With bond measure 3-447, CCC is asking for a $90 million endowment that will fund major improvements and expansions to its facilities and academic programs.
In a two-year engagement process, the board of education conducted meetings with the public to discuss the needs of the college. Members of the business community suggested that the college’s outdated programs do not sufficiently train students for the workforce; they would be more inclined to hire graduates whose educations meet current industry standards. In general, the community leaned toward the reinforcement of programs that prepare students for family-wage jobs in high-demand fields.
The answer to this demand will be not only to modernize existing labs and facilities for health care, engineering and science programs, but also to build an entirely new industrial technical learning center for electronics, manufacturing, and automotive departments. New and improved spaces for these fields will open the programs up to a higher capacity of students, and create new jobs to staff the expansion.
In addition to accommodating the needs of in-demand career fields, many general campus improvements will be included. As the college approaches its 50-year anniversary, there is a call to renovate nearly all of its original buildings. The electrical system in place cannot compete with the demand of an increasingly technological way of life. The buildings themselves lack the efficiency that an energy-conscious society requires. Seismically unsound buildings need retrofitting. Plumbing, heating, security and the appliances these systems use are all in need of repair or replacement. If the bond passes, many of these issues will be addressed and corrected.
Three buildings are slated to be completely replaced or expanded: the 61-year-old building at the Harmony campus, the Bill Brod Community Center on the main campus and a new wing of DeJardin. The construction of a new $19 million community center will create a more efficient and attractive jewel in the campus crown. The bookstore will be moved to the new building, creating a more functional and cohesive space for student resources.
Perhaps the most pressing use of the bond would be to pay off an existing debt the college owes for the construction of the newer building on the Harmony campus, freeing up $1.6 million annually in the general fund. This reallocation of debt will allow for funding of additional staff positions, as well as sustaining current positions that may be cut if the bond is not passed. All three campus unions support the passing of the bond.
It is important to note that because this bond will be taking the place of a prior bond, there will be no significant increase to annual tax rates. It is projected to cost homeowners 19 cents per thousand dollars of their home’s value. For example, the tax contribution on a $250,000 home would be $47.50 annually. The school would pay the bond back over 26 or fewer years.
In summary, we on the editorial board find the plans for this bond to be in the best interest of the students and community. Enforcing a shift to prioritize job training for in-demand fields will help fuel the economy and add lasting value to the college. The improvements to the campus will increase the safety and overall experience of CCC’s students, as well as protecting and creating the jobs of its teachers. A ‘yes’ vote from the students for bond measure 3-447 could make all the difference.
STORY BY: EDITORIAL BOARD